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How to Make the One-Cut
Betsy Ross Star


There are plenty of instructions on the Web for the 5-pointed Betsy Ross Star, but we think you've found the best instructions right here.

We've eliminated unnecessary creases that spoil the finished star, and we provide a template that takes the guesswork out of making a perfect straight-armed star.

The story goes that George Washington asked Betsy Ross to make a flag that had a 6-point star.

origami-cup-hat-brim.jpgBetsy is supposed to have shown him how easily a perfect 5-point star could be made with a simple folding process and one snip.  And that, some say, is how the stars on the American flag came to be.                        Click for hat instructions.

We want to acknowledge Arnold Tubis for inspiring us to delve into the process of making the Betsy Ross star.  To paraphrase Dr. Tubis, the star is a fascinating blend of origami and American history.

  • One piece of thin, rectangular paper. 8½ x 10 inches is the size that seems to have historical significance.  You can get satisfactory results from an 8½ x 11 piece, too.
Paper 8½ inches wide makes a star up to 8½ inches across.  You can make smaller stars by adjusting where you make the one-snip, as explained in the instructions below.

Likewise, a piece of standard 6-inch origami paper with one edge cut to 4¾ inches makes a star up to 4¾ inches across.
  • Scissors
  • Sharp pencil or pen
  • Piece of cardboard, such as from a cereal box, about 2 x 5 inches
Making the One-Cut Template
Cut a wedge of cardboard matching the angle below. You can print this image or use a protractor to make a 18-degree angle.

Tip: Save ink! Before printing this entire page, right-click on the angle below and check your browser options. In Internet Explorer, there is an option to print the picture. On a Mac in Safari, you can right-click and choose Open Image in New Window and print from there.


How To Fold and Cut the Betsy Ross Star

1.     Even if your paper has color on one side, it doesn't matter which side is up.

Fold in half, short side to short side.


2.  With the folded edge at the top, fold in half again, side to side, but do not crease.

Only make a tiny pinch crease with the tip of your finger to mark the center of the folded edge.


3.  Unfold.


4.     Fold in half, top to bottom, but do not crease.

Make a small pinch crease on the right side.  This crease can be a little longer than the previous one.


5.     Unfold.  Be sure the folded edge is at the top.

Using the two pinch creases as guides, fold the upper left corner to the side crease, forming a point at the center-top pinch crease.


6.  Fold the same corner to the left edge, forming a triangle.

Align the two edges perfectly.  Make the top point of the triangle as neat and sharp as possible.


7.     Fold the triangular wedge behind, aligning the new fold perfectly with the edge of the triangle.


8.  Fold the right corner to the left edge, perfectly aligning the edges indicated by the arrow, and keeping the point sharp.

Tip:  If you are working with thicker paper, this may be difficult.  Just do the best you can.


9.  Lay your cardboard template on the piece, aligning it with the right edges.

Peek under the top two flaps and note the corner underneath, as indicated by the arrow.

Make sure the template is above the corner.

Mark the cut line by tracing along the left edge of the template with a sharp pencil or pen.


Tip: By sliding the template up toward the tip, you can make a smaller star.

11. Cut slightly to the right of the pencil line.

This ensures the pencil mark is not on your star.


12.  Unfold the small piece to reveal your Betsy Ross Star!

Tip: If the arms of the star are not exactly the same length, the paper may have slipped as you cut.  You can refold the star and tweak the cut.


     You can make a second, small star and an outline star by cutting another wedge before unfolding.


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